Hundreds descend on tourist hotspots despite coronavirus social distancing advice

Despite the government urging people to stay two metres apart amid the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds were spotted congregating at tourist hotspots across the South at the weekend.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned the government will impose stricter restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus if the public does not follow social distancing advice which he described as "absolutely critical".

Brighton beach was crowded at the weekend. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Brighton beach was among the places crowded.

Visitors could be seen congregating along the promenade and on the beach in the sunny weather.

Library Pictures: West Wittering Beach Credit: ITV News Meridian

West Wittering Beach was also inundated with visitors at the weekend.

It has since closed stating that it "cannot in good conscience remain open to the public".

Credit: ITV News Meridian

It is with regret that we have decided to close the beach car park with immediate effect.

Wittering Estate PLC

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Royal Victoria Country Park is among the country parks closing its car parks. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Hampshire County Council closed all of its car parks at country parks and outdoor venues from Monday in response to an influx of visitors.

The authority said: "Please DO NOT DRIVE to our country parks, as there is no parking on site and all our facilities at the park are now closed (including the play areas and toilets)."

It added that open spaces at the parks are "accessible for local visitors to walk round if they are following the latest Government guidelines on social distancing".

Credit: ITV News Meridian

Forestry England announced that all main car parks in the New Forest were also closed from Monday "to keep the public and our staff safe" after a "large number" of visitors.

The car parks affected are:

  • Bolderwood

  • Wilverley

  • Blackwater

  • Whitefield Moor

  • Anderwood

  • Hatchet Pond

  • New Forest Reptile Centre

All public facilities across the New Forest are already closed as well as campsites.

Smaller car parks in the forest remain open for now.

The authority says it is "concerned that closures would lead to large amounts of parking on verges and open ground causing real and irreversible damage to the landscape" and "parking at locations away from the network of tracks would also lead to large numbers of people walking across the open forest putting wildlife at huge risk, particularly as it’s the start of the ground nesting bird season in these areas".

Forestry England says it will keep the situation "under constant review".

Credit: ITV News Meridian

The MP for Canterbury, Rosie Duffield, reiterated the guidelines from Public Health England.

I don't want to frighten people, I'm sure the NHS are absolutely doing their best. But to add to those burdens unnecessarily is deeply irresponsible and we have to follow the guidelines form Public Health England and stay away from people if possible."

Rosie Duffield MP, Canterbury, Lab